Swiss Re pushes for more concerted action on climate change in Cancún

For the second consecutive year, Swiss Re is participating in the UN’s annual Climate Change Conference as an official member of Switzerland’s country delegation. As the talks in Cancún entered their final stage, Swiss Re stepped up its efforts to advocate for more concerted action on climate change and highlight the role of insurance in helping societies better manage climate risks.

At the climate summit in Cancún, Swiss Re has been active in discussions on how the private sector, including the insurance industry, can strengthen collective responses to climate change, both by supporting a low-carbon economy and making societies more resilient to the effects of changing weather patterns.

Speaking at a meeting on climate adaptation, Swiss Re’s Head of Sustainability David Bresch stressed that up to 60% of local adaptation can be done cost-effectively, particularly if investments are made early on. “It’s cheaper to invest in adaptation now than to sit and wait to pay the losses in the future,” Bresch said. “Insurance is not a silver bullet in adaptation, but it does put a price tag on risk. Besides providing cover against severe weather events, it therefore also incentivises preventive action and raises climate risk awareness.”

Ahead of this year’s summit, Swiss Re joined other major asset owners and managers in a Global Investor Statement on Climate Change (PDF) which calls on governments to encourage more private sector investment in the low-carbon economy. With 259 signatories collectively responsible for over USD 15 trillion in assets, this initiative represents the largest-ever group of investors to call for government action on climate change. In the Cancún Communiqué (PDF), Swiss Re also reconfirmed its support for a reduction in carbon emissions of 20-30% by 2020 and at least 50% by 2050 (versus 1990 levels) to meet the 2°C limit set out in the Copenhagen Accord.

The Swiss government invited Swiss Re to join its delegation because of the company’s long-standing experience in catastrophe risk modelling and cutting-edge work on climate adaptation. Swiss Re first identified climate risk 20 years ago. Today, we actively shape the global climate agenda through our risk transfer solutions, research and dialogue with partners from the public and private sectors.

This year, some of the world’s most renowned sustainability rankings again reconfirmed Swiss Re’s leadership on the topic of climate change, including the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and the Carbon Disclosure Project . As a founding partner and steering committee member, Swiss Re was also actively engaged in the activities of global coalitions ClimateWise and the Climate Group.

Published 9 December 2010

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